Not many industries have been devastated by COVID-19 like the airline industry. Airlines are firing personnel, including highly skilled pilots, and asking others to go into early retirement. Many older pilots, for myriad reasons, are resisting retirement. The Wall Street Journal tells the story of Garry Krasnov, who would like to tell retirement “not yet,” but in the end made the gut-wrenching decision to take an early retirement offer from Delta Air Lines.
With a vaccine approved in the U.K. and more approvals expected, airlines are hoping travel will begin its recovery later next year once enough people have been vaccinated. But they still believe it could take years for demand to return to the highs before the pandemic and subsequent economic fallout. Bringing all their employees back could be a long, slow process. The wait will be that much longer for pilots trying to launch their careers.
Furloughed pilots will be called back eventually, but it could take months or even years. Some may opt to find a different career. Some have retired.
Other industries are trying to lure idled pilots, though typically for much lower-skilled jobs. Schneider National Inc., a trucking firm based in Green Bay, Wis., recently ran recruiting ads aimed at ex-pilots on Facebook: “Whatever vehicle you pilot, you are the ‘captain of your ship,’ ” the ad read, featuring one pilot-turned-trucker. “Switch to a stable, growing career in trucking!” In Australia, some furloughed pilots are working on farms, operating heavy machinery to help harvest crops such as wheat.
Many pilots are drawn to the job by a lifelong love of flying and see it as a way of life. Though the romance of air travel has faded in recent years, being a pilot remains a special occupation, making it hard for some to walk away.
Gary Krasnov, 62, who had been flying jets for decades, had already cut back on his hours. But when Delta Air Lines Inc. released its early-retirement program over the summer—part of an effort to persuade senior pilots to leave voluntarily amid the Covid crisis—his chest tightened and his throat closed.
“I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me.’ It was incredibly overwhelming,” he says. Nine days before he retired as a pilot, his wife asked if she could finally put away the suitcase he kept ready to go. He said, “Not yet.”
Action Line: Many of you are doing your dream job. You’re good at it, and you have a passion for your work. You owe it to yourself to continue doing what you’re good at. Tell retirement, not yet, if you can.
Originally posted on Your Survival Guy.